Eagles

Eagles NFL draft options at No. 25: DT Christian Wilkins

Eagles NFL draft options at No. 25: DT Christian Wilkins

One of three Clemson defensive linemen who might go in the first round, Wilkins is probably the most likely candidate to end up in Philly. He's been a favorite of mine throughout this pre-draft process. 

He played 3-technique in college (but he can play 1-tech too) and is exactly the kind of get-up-the-field type of defensive tackle the Eagles seem to like in their 4-3 scheme. 

His sack numbers won’t blow you away, but he had very solid production as an interior rusher. He had 5 1/2 sacks in his senior season and 16 in his four-year college career. He had 14 TFLs in 2018. 

Aside from his athletic prowess is his ability as a leader. Even at the combine, he spoke to reporters at length about his personality and leadership traits. He said he wanted prospective teams to know they’re not just getting a good football player, but are getting a high-character leader as well. 

Wilkins had a solid combine performance, but simply isn’t the athletic freak some others in this class are. Because of that, maybe there’s a chance he’s still on the board when the Eagles pick at 25. He ran the 40 in 5.04 and put up 28 reps on the bench. If he's not there at 25, he's a clear trade-up candidate. 

The one negative about Wilkins is he’s already 23 years old. The Eagles’ first-round pick from 2017, Derek Barnett, won’t turn 23 until June and he has already played two NFL seasons. 

Current roster at DT: The Eagles have Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson as starters. Their top backups are Treyvon Hester and Bruce Hector. 

How he would fit: Wilkins would come in as a rotational player. Cox and Jackson would start, but he’d be the first guy off the bench in a pretty important role. Eventually, he would likely take over as a starter. 

Eagles history at DT in draft: The last time the Eagles used a first-round pick on a defensive tackle was in 2012, when they took Cox at No. 12. That has worked out. The Eagles have drafted six DTs in the first round: Cox, Brodrick Bunkley, Mike Patterson, Corey Simon, Leonard Renfro, Jerome Brown. 

Since the 2012 draft, the Eagles have taken three interior defensive linemen: Bennie Logan in the third round back in 2013, Beau Allen in the seventh round in 2014 and Elijah Qualls in the sixth round in 2017. 

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Eagles 2019 training camp battles: Are Eagles deep enough at DE?

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Eagles 2019 training camp battles: Are Eagles deep enough at DE?

As we near the start of the Eagles’ 2019 training camp, we’re taking a closer look at some key position battles to watch this summer. We already looked at cornerback, running back and linebacker.            

Up today: Defensive end 

Names to know 

Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Josh Sweat, Shareef Miller, Daeshon Hall, Joe Ostman 

What to watch 

While the Eagles have much more depth at defensive tackle heading into the 2019 season, there’s some reason to worry about their depth at defensive end. Last year, they began the season with the same starters but had Michael Bennett and Chris Long as rotational players. This year, they’re not that deep. 

The starters are the same this season: Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett. Even though he’s over 30 now, we all know what kind of player Graham has been and will be in 2019. He was hobbled by a lingering ankle injury early last season but was back to himself later. Barnett got off to a quick start in 2018, but then hurt his shoulder and eventually needed surgery. He wasn’t a full participant in OTAs this spring, but should be ready for the start of the season. Those two are set and should be pretty good. 

After the starters? That’s where some questions start to form. Curry is back on a much cheaper deal than the one he made it through just one year of in Tampa Bay. Curry is a solid player but he’s 31 now and since he had 9 sacks in 2014, he hasn’t gone over 3 1/2 in the four years since. In an injury-shortened season in Tampa Bay, he had 2 1/2 sacks in 2018. And now, he’s the Eagles’ top rotational end. 

But at least Curry has proven to be an adequate player in the NFL. Sweat, Miller, Hall and Ostman haven’t proven much in their short careers. Sweat certainly looks the part and will get a chance to be a part of the rotation, but last year’s fourth-rounder played just 68 snaps last season. Miller was the last pick of the fourth round this year, so it would be unfair to have immediately high expectations of him. Hall was a third-round pick in 2017, but didn’t last in Carolina and has struggled to find a home in the NFL. Ostman is a hard-worker whom the Eagles love, but is he really the answer? 

Perhaps the Eagles bring in a veteran — Connor Barwin would like to come back — to fill out the rotation, but if they don’t, we’ll need to watch Sweat, Miller, Hall and Ostman closely this summer. One or two of them will likely make the roster and then fight for playing time. Because Malik Jackson will probably stay on the field for third downs, the depth at defensive end isn’t as important, but the Eagles are one injury away from one of those guys playing a significant role in 2019. 

Prediction 

Graham and Barnett start and Curry is the first guy off the bench. Sweat will be the team’s fourth option, but will have to earn playing time. I don’t think Miller is ready to be a significant contributor as a rookie. Keep an eye on Hall, who is a dark horse candidate to make the team.

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Eagle Eye podcast: Wentz out of the shadow; Peters back to dominating?

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Eagle Eye podcast: Wentz out of the shadow; Peters back to dominating?

On this edition of Eagle Eye, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro are getting ready for training camp. 

The guys break down a few things Doug Pederson said before the team broke for summer, take a look at position battles and list former Eagles who squandered their talent. 

Also, wishing Chris Maragos the best as he retires. 

2:00 - Getting ready for training camp 
8:00 - Doug Pederson on Carson Wentz 
12:00 - Can Jason Peters be dominant again? 
19:00 - Position battle: CB 
24:00 - Position battle: RB
28:00 - Position battle: LB
32:00 - Position battle: DE
35:00 - Position battle: WR
40:00 - Eagles who squandered talent 
51:00 - Chris Maragos retires 

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